Paul Lowinger


I’m not sure what stalking is but it may be happening to me but I found a definition in Webster which seemed to fit: to pursue stealthily from behind cover and to watch. Another meaning was more worisome: to follow warily for purpose of killing, as game.

.My situation began subliminally as the surreal displaced the commonplace. My daughter and her husband with three year old grandaughter and baby grandson visited my condo on the beach while I was on an Elderhostel trip to Antartica. They stayed only a day leaving because my futon bed was too hard; it really is like sleeping on the floor because that’s what seems best for my back.

A plastic bag was on the hall table after I got back but I remained clueless like a cartoon character stepping into a manhole even when I saw it held a wad of doll clothes. Only later did I inventory the ten pink, blue and white ribboned jackets, blouses, skirts, pantaloons, dresses and purses and a note in a women’s handwriting that said, “Two dresses fit the seven and one half inch doll rather then the standard eleven inch Barbie doll. Mattel announced recently plans to alter Barbie’s figure. Will current clothes fit the new Barbie? Don’t know - advise buy available old standard doll now and keep it until your grandaughter is old enough to use this toy.” It was signed XO, kisses and hugs as translated by a friend conversant in the language of love.

I should explain that I live on the second floor of a fifty unit condo building whose halls can be entered only by residents with a number code that opens the front door.

A day later when I entered my condo with my son, there was a refrigerator magnetin the middle of the front door with a photo of a bearded goat out of whose head grew a horn. No smooth horn it was crenulated looking like a small Chrysler Building. My son seemed dismissive of the phallic joke but after all at 74, I am an old goat. I put it with the Barbie clothes, still mostly heedless of the fabric of events.

Life was as busy as late December gets before Christmas and I needed an hour in the basement gym of my building where I use the exercycle, treadmill and weight equipment. It’s stress reduction and aerobic exersize for cardiovascular health. I left my apartment at three and returned at four to find a nine inch pink and white knitted gingerbread man in an envelope on the doormat. No note this time but the address was “Paul” and it arrived during the hour that I was absent. The event had my attention. Who could time the delivery so precisely? Only someone whe could see or hear my comings and goings.

Like the Jon Benet Ramsey case there were some creepy crawleys under the rock. Last September there was a complaint about noise in my unit from Martha Lee who lives below me. (I've changed most of the names.) I learned about this in a phone call from the condo management company and I was angry. Of course, this was an overreaction. Actually I am quiet except once at one am when an overloaded closet rod crashed . Well there may have been a time or two when I pounded a jar on the tiles of the kitchen floor to open it. And of course there was a noisy day when the carpet layers walked about on the concrete floor taking up the old carpet before putting down my new one.

I could delay no longer so I read the California law on stalking which described harassment but also requires a threat to do harm. It wasn’t time to call the police but I was ready to talk to people.

My daughter was also a supporter of direct action. “Just talk to Martha Lee. Knock on her door.”

By this time it was Christmas Eve and I finished the last of my shopping. When I got home about six, I found a child’s bicycle in its store wrappings in front of my door. The note read, “Paul, there is a liability release-copy to you next week. The little girl may be able to ride the bike when she’s 8-10 years old. If you don’t wish to keep the bike that long, you may give it away to whomever you choose. Have a nice holiday. Martha Lee.”

Finally, I went to the condo management office where I talked to Laura in the late afternoon befor New Year's Eve. We went to a conference room in athe basement where she invited her assistant and the handyman for the company to listen. They asked some questions and registered amazement appropriate to an announcdement thjat a UFO had landed..

Finally, I looked up my stalker’s phone number in the directory and I found her name and phone number, a kind of Rosetta Stone. I was stimulated by my daughter who was back for a visit with her husband and two children. I said, “ I believe you left a bicycle and some other things outside my apartment.” I paused as though their would be a noisy denial.

A low moaning voice without tonal variety. “I didn’t know if you got it. I won it in a contest.”

“I can bring the things down tonight or tomorrow if that would be better.”


Alright, I’ll bring them down between nine and ten in the morning.”

In the morning, the bicycle went down to the door of the lower unit with a bag of knitted goodies and a goat’s head. There was a note on the door, “Paul, Leave the things. I’ll get them later.”

Sunday at noon my door bell rang and I looked throught the peephole and saw nothing. I wondered briefly and then opened the door anyway wary from watching televison programs showing home invasions by criminal dwarfs.

The bicycle was back with the woolies and now a mysterious form releasing a supermarket who gave away the bicycle from liabililty signed Martha Lee.

Like a beached whale, I mourned my lost anonymity even as I savored the love and danger of a mysterious princess But my need to be in control of events was the strongest emotion. I had trouble being passive in a storm so I acted. I called Laura and told her the offerings were outside my condo and she should take them away, She did and I got a playback of the conversation with Martha Lee, "I was only trying to make nice, you can give the bicycle to the janitor if you want. Everyone likes the knits. People on the bus ask if I'll make them some."

Two weeks later and no more gifts. I’m a private person again. I’ve told the story at lease twelve times fo people if you count updates. I’ve still never seen Martha Lee. It's time to join Surviving Stalking, a new organization I learned about through the web.

© Paul Lowinger 2003